The University of Maryland is changing its course. A day after the university decided to reinstate D.J. Durkin as head football coach, the Board of Regents is reversing course, firing Durkin on Wednesday night, a university spokeswoman told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg.
The backlash to Maryland's decision was swift and loud. Whether or not that led the University to change its decision is not yet known. But what is known is that university president Wallace Loh was in favor of firing Durkin, with the board of trustees forcing his hand to keep Durkin. What we also know is that several Maryland football players walked out of the Tuesday press conference out of anger and disgust.
Even Maryland governor Larry Hogan urged the university to reconsider its decision to retain Durkin as head football coach on Tuesday afternoon. The third-year coach was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11 following the June death of sophomore offensive tackle Jordan McNair.
Hogan was direct in suggesting Maryland to strongly reconsider its choice. "University leadership still faces the considerable challenge of restoring the trust of students, families, and faculty, and proving that there is and will be accountability for any actions that adversely impact student welfare and the standing of our flagship university," Hogan said, via the Associated Press.
"The addition of an oversight board seems to be a positive step, but many will understandably question whether enough has been done to address the serious concerns that exist among many in the College Park community -- I am one of them."
Late Wednesday night, Loh issued a letter to the University of Maryland community.
Dear University of Maryland community,
I am writing to inform you of actions I am taking that are in the best interest of the University of Maryland.
Yesterday, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced numerous recommendations, including employment decisions about specific personnel on our campus. I accepted the Board’s recommendations. At the same time, I announced my retirement as president in June 2019.
Since returning to campus after yesterday’s press conference, I have met with the leadership of the Student Government Association speaking on behalf of numerous student organizations; the Senate Executive Committee; Deans; department chairs; and campus leadership. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to the campus.
The chair of the Board of Regents has publicly acknowledged that I had previously raised serious concerns about Coach Durkin’s return. This is not at all a reflection of my opinion of Coach Durkin as a person. However, a departure is in the best interest of the University, and this afternoon Coach Durkin was informed that the University will part ways.
This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one for our entire University. I will devote the remaining months of my presidency to advancing the needed reforms in our Athletic Department that prioritize the safety and well-being of our student-athletes.
Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland
The university is not firing Durkin with cause, according to Rick Maese. Instead, the school will buy out Durkin of his remaining contract.
Matt Canada, who has led the Terps to a 5-3 record in Durkin's absence, will remain head coach on an interim basis.
The Terrapins host Michigan State on Saturday at noon.